Chungking Express (1994)
Director: Wong Kar-Wai
Casts: Brigitte Lin, Takeshi Kaneshiro, Tony Leung Chiu Wai, Faye Wong
If memories could be canned, would they also have expiry dates?
The film is consists of two intersecting stories about two lovesick Hong Kong policemen dealing with their own relationship and heartaches in a restless, neon-lit urban jungle. The first story tells about Cop 223 (Takeshi Kaneshiro) who is still pinning after his ex-girlfriend named May and tries to mend his broken heart by eating cans of pineapple with expiration dates that fall on May 1. He wanders around the city at night, lonely and depressed. He soon encounters a mysterious drug smuggler (Brigitte Lin) -a blonde beauty in a brown trench coat and sunglasses. The second story is of Cop 663 (Tony Leung) who has just been recently dumped by his flight attendant girlfriend and deals with his broken heart by talking to inanimate objects in his apartment. A young woman (Faye Wong) working in a 24-hr deli that he frequents secretly falls in love with him. He barely notices her but when she gets the keys to his apartment, she secretly goes to his place whenever he’s not at home — cleaning and re-decorating the place. Pinning after the man who doesn’t know that she exists, she shows her love to him in a most subtle, hopeless romantic way.
Written and directed by Wong Kar-wai – the ever subversive director in Hong Kong’s mainstream cinema. This movie is what you’ll definitely relate to if you love film itself. If you are that casual audience who just follows the plot and the surface aspects, then this film will definitely disappoint you, make you confused and weary. It doesn’t really follow what will happen to the characters. It is more concerned with the journey rather than the actual destination. Wong’s filming style is very unique. Together with the quirky cinematographer Christopher Doyle, they shot the film in a restless and shifting motion, with neon lights and unusual shots that sometimes gives you bouts of confusion. It took me several viewings to fully understand what Wong Kar Wai is trying to deliver to his audience. Each viewing another discovery and another reason to love the film. Sometimes it makes me think that Wong Kar-Wai doesn’t make movies for people. He makes movies for himself and for people who understand him. Quentin Tarantino – the man behind the movie Kill Bill – confessed that he loves this movie very much. He signed a deal with Miramax and released this in the U.S.
This film is about human relationships in an urban environment — the neon-lit jungle where people often wander and get lost. It shows a paradox that even if the characters live in a densely-populated city, they are lonely and live in their own eccentric inner worlds. They use isolation to escape and mend their wounded souls. Wong Kar-Wai said “I think a lot of city people have a lot of emotions but sometimes they can’t find the people to express them to. That’s something the characters in the film share. Tony talks to a bar of soap; Faye steals into Tony’s home and gets satisfaction from arranging other people’s stuff; and Takeshi has his pineapples. They all project their emotions on certain objects.”
This is probably my most favorite Wong Kar-Wai film. It’s pleasurable the way cinema should be in the first place. It is so hypnotizing you’ll get to see yourself in the lonely world that each character dwells. It is a beautiful art film that doesn’t require the audience to be too “intellectual” but to have feelings because after all this film is about human connection.
I thought we’d stay together for the long haul, flying like a jumbo jet on a full tank. But we changed course.